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Dundee State Fish Hatchery Temporarily Suspends Operations

<font size=2> <P>The drought is responsible for hurting Texoma farmers and ranchers and now, it's forced the state to close down its largest freshwater fish hatchery in Archer County.</P> <P>Mechell Dixon is live at Dundee Fish Hatchery with more on this story.</P></font>

Although Parks and Wildlife officials officially announced earlier today that operations at Dundee State Fish Hatchery would be temporarily suspended starting today because of the drought.

However, workers here actually started preparing for this day long before this morning's announcement.

Last month managers at Dundee State Fish Hatchery faced a tough realization.

"Based on the level at Kemp now, we can't fill our ponds, stock fry into those and then reach a point where we don't have water to harvest those ponds. So, as things stand now, we will not be in production this spring," says Dundee Fish Hatchery Manager Dennis Smith.

Texas Parks and Wildlife was suppose to make the official decision to temporarily close the Dundee Fish Hatchery by March 26th, but that decision came today.

"We're facing reality. We have not to this point caught any additional water in Lake Kemp, which is what everything depends upon. If Lake Kemp drops another foot, we don't have the ability to flow water," says Smith.

So, for nearly three weeks fish from all but one of the hatchery's 97 ponds have been transferred to other state freshwater hatcheries and the ponds drained.

And employees have been preparing to suspend operations here but for how long depends on Mother Nature.

"When Lake Kemp catches some water,"

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife officials, Lake Kemp need enough rain to elevate it about six feet to keep this hatchery open.

So, until that amount of rain falls, employees here will spend the spring and summer working on construction and maintenance projects.

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